Withycombe’s wonderful season through the eyes of head coach Sam Williams

PUBLISHED: 13:16 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:16 27 March 2020

Action from the Withycombe win at New Cross. Picture: JIM DAVIS

Action from the Withycombe win at New Cross. Picture: JIM DAVIS

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We asked Withycombe head coach Sam Williams for his take on the 2019/20 season.

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9044 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9044 Picture: Terry Ife

Here’s his response: “Well we won every league and cup game we played, we had just two more points to bank from what would have been five games to to mathematically guarantee winning the league, and had a cup final to look forward to.

“That said, I am glad the RFU acted swiftly and first postponed, and then cancelled the season in order to protect the players and club from having to make difficult decisions given the current situation.

“Overall, I am immensely proud of the way the team have conducted themselves on and off the pitch this season, and I feel we have gone a long way to putting Withycombe RFC back into people’s hearts and minds.

“We, as a group, have worked hard to be more welcoming, more sociable and more respectful of each other, along with our opposition and from a personal point of view I have really made an effort to be empathic of the clubs within the league who are struggling. We have not forgotten the tough times of last season, and we have not forgotten that there is a lot more than the win/loss column in a published league table.

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9097 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9097 Picture: Terry Ife

“On the pitch we have been really lucky to have had several excellent players join us this year, returning from other clubs or long-term injury, and visiting us from our Australian friends in Wollongbar.

“To a man I can say that every one of them has made the team, and the club a better place, both on and off the pitch and I am so happy that the boys who took hiding after hiding last year were able to really enjoy their rugby this year.

“We have been superbly supplemented by our excellent colts, with the majority of second years, and several first years having played in either a first or second team fixture this year, all doing exceptionally well.

“I will also reserve special praise for this year’s captain, Liam Cullen. In addition to a fantastic playing season he has also driven both standards, and enjoyment off the pitch. He also brings cakes and biscuits on a Thursday...

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9010 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9010 Picture: Terry Ife

“In terms of games, I know the guys are devastated not to have been able to see if we could have been able to remained unbeaten, and finished with two trophies. Therewere some excellent performances along the way though, with several come from behind-last minute bonus point tries and wins, as well as the home performance against Exeter Saracens.

“At this point I cannot see how the RFU will be able to promote and relegate teams with 20 plus points remaining to have been played for, I suppose we will find out in due course.

“That said, if we have to do it all again it will certainly be a great learning environment for our colts graduates as they make their full time transition to senior rugby.

“I am sure we will have to say goodbye to one or two players over the summer as they move away, however I would like to personally thank them, and all the players for the efforts this year - it was certainly one to remember for the right reasons.

“I also want to thank the club members who put so much into keeping it all going, and who I know are now strategizing about how to manage these unprecedented circumstances, and to the wider community for their support and sponsorship of the players and club.”


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